How Much Sex Is Normal?

Dollar Photo unhappy woman lying in bed stressed.So, you haven’t had much sex with your spouse lately, huh? Well, one in five couples are living in “sexless” marriages, sex experts say, meaning having sex fewer than 10 times a year. And one-third of married couples struggle with the problem of mismatched sexual desire. It’s the main reason couples seek counseling. And here in Silicon Valley, [California] where couples are working long hours to pay high mortgages or are desperately searching for jobs during a recession, fatigue and stress only make matters worse.

“I’ve been married 10 years. There were times when once in three months was a good thing,” said a 33-year-old Santa Clara County employee who didn’t want her name used. “It’s feeding the kids, getting them to bed, all after putting in a full day and commuting. I have a ‘no-sex-after-8 o’clock’ rule. When I crawl into bed, I want to go to sleep.”

Low sex drive is such a problem, said Al Cooper of the San Jose Marital and Sexuality Centre, that it’s considered the “common cold of sexual issues of the new millennium.”

Whether sex drives are lower in general now than in years past is uncertain. But one thing is sure, Cooper said: “Women are complaining more.” When it comes to seeking counseling, it’s the women who are dragging the men into sex therapy offices. And in these instances, contrary to popular belief, it’s the husbands with low desire. “In our society, it’s more culturally acceptable for the woman to have no sex drive,” Cooper said. “When the man has no sex drive, it’s more upsetting to both of them.”

Sexless marriages seem to be the constant talk these days, from Oprah and Dr. Phil (who calls it an “undeniable epidemic”) to numerous books climbing the bestseller charts, including “The Sex-Starved Marriage” by Michele Weiner Davis. New York Magazine wrote a recent story about “Generation Sexless” —young New Yorkers so busy with their careers and demanding toddlers they have little time or desire for sex.

So, how much sex is “normal?” Sex experts are reluctant to quantify how much sex is enough sex (it could make some couples feel wholly inadequate, and some couples get along just fine without much sex). But while fewer than 10 times a year is considered sexless, having sex once or twice a week is considered average.

“Unlike vitamins, there are no daily minimum requirements,” said Weiner Davis, who wrote The Sex-Starved Marriage. “If both spouses are satisfied with having a sex-lite marriage, that’s great. However, it’s much more often the case that couples are polarized, that one person is unhappy with the quality and quantity of their sex life and the other is saying, ‘What’s the big deal? Get a life.'”

Only 40% of married couples say they’re very satisfied with their sex lives, Weiner Davis said. While medical problems and some medications can cause loss of desire —including some antidepressants and some birth control pills —most problems revolve around differing and unfulfilled expectations.

Heather and Jarad, who have been married for 5 years and have a 6-month-old daughter, say it’s hard to squeeze in time for sex, or even work up the desire, in their hectic lives. The couple, who commute to San Jose from Hollister each day, say they’re lucky to have sex twice, maybe three times, a month. “It’s the game of trying to slip it in when the baby’s sleeping,” Jarad said. “It’s a fight for time.” “There are times when I may want to and he may not,” Heather added. “It’s important for me to have that time to remember I’m not just a mother, I’m his wife.”

Dramatic changes in men’s and women’s roles over the past decades also have altered expectations of marriage —and corresponding feelings about sex.

“I look back to my parents’ generation; they had it a little easier. Their roles were carved out,” Weiner Davis said. “Now in relationships, although we have a lot more freedom, it’s hard, because everything is up for grabs: Who takes the garbage out? Who gets up with the baby? In a sense we have to invent our marriages, and with that freedom comes conflict.”

In addition to stress and exhaustion, experts say, anger and resentment can build to the point where sex stops. Other factors in sexless marriages include subverting one’s sex drive to, say, pornographic Internet sites or affairs with other people. “I saw a doctor last week who wasn’t having sex with his wife but was looking at pictures of big-breasted women on the Internet,” Cooper said. “We see this a lot in the valley.”

In general, however, a couple’s problems are often less about sex, per se, than getting to the sex, Cooper said. No couple’s willingness for sex at any given time lines up perfectly, he said. The key is how well a couple negotiates the times when one initiates and the other refuses.

“If it becomes a major battle every time, the person with the lower sex drive feels constantly barraged and harassed about sex. The one with the high sex drive feels constantly deprived, and the fights get more intense each time,” Cooper said. “We see there that the sex just drops away.” And when the sex stops, often the casual affection stops: the hand-holding, the laughing at each other’s jokes, the sitting next to each other on the couch. When relationships become that icy, they risk infidelity and, ultimately, divorce.

About half the population needs to make a real effort to feel desire, Weiner Davis said. A reluctant spouse must make a “decision for desire,” she said. “If you wait for the feeling to sort of wash over you, when the dogs are out of the house, the phones are not ringing, the kids are in bed, you’re never going to have sex.”

Couples need to put as much energy into their sex lives as their job and children, she said. Set the mood early in the day with simple flirtations around the house, a patting on the rear end, complimenting the spouse’s appearance. And of course, avoid bickering before bedtime. Couples with more deep-seated problems should seek counseling.

“I wish I had a dollar for everyone who said ‘I wasn’t in the mood when I started, but I really got into it,'” she said. “One of the best ways to make it happen is to be receptive to your spouse’s advances.”

It’s advice that the 33-year-old woman with the “no-sex-after-8” rule didn’t take. She and her husband are separating. “The world is just very busy,” she said. “You need to have a two-income household. You pay a price for it.”

The above article came from The Mercury News— Feb. 14, 2003, and was titled, Is it the New Epidemic? written by Julia Prodis Sulek Mercury News. It’s not written from a Christ-follower’s view point but we think it’s very sound advice.

We, at Marriage Missions, don’t feel that God would have us “pay the price” of sacrificing our marriages because we’re too “busy” to have sex. Scripturally we feel that God wants us to work with each other, as long as it doesn’t go against scriptural grounds, to accommodate each other’s sexual needs.

The scriptural basis we see for this can be found in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 where it says,

“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone, but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”


Filed under: Sexual Issues

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619 responses to “How Much Sex Is Normal?

  1. If you ask my husband he would say once in 45 years. That’s where we are at now, he hates sex. To him it’s lame, disgusting, messy, smelly, sticky and not worth the time, Also humans don’t need sex, porn, gays, kids; it’s all stupid.

    1. Amy, you said it was once in 47 years in your previous post. You also post similar stories under names like “Anna.” And you said your husband retired to the garage with no appliances, but a user named “Toni” bragged about moving to the garage to avoid his wife of 46 years. What gives?

  2. I love my wife, she loves me and we have sex regularly. However, it is not regular enough for me. She is aware of this, but has in her mind how much sex is “good enough.” I wish she would get out of her mind a particular number for how often we make love. In reality, each should be in charge of the other’s body. There are times when she really desires it and I do not. However, I perform always as I see it to be my duty as her husband. I wish this attitude were mutual. I think if God were a larger part of our relationship that this would not be an issue.

    1. Karl, Your comment resonates with me. My partner and I also love each other but I am dissatisfied. She has a medical condition, which complicates matters but to which I am also sensitive. For me, the bottom line is I have never refused sex, whatever I am feeling, and for her a refusal is very common. Our frequency is little more than once a month and initiation is almost always from me and fraught with danger of an argument.


      p.s. In case anyone thinks it is relevant, I am 61 and my partner is 53 (and post menopause).

  3. It’s funny how you all are so wrong because sex is not for pleasure it’s simply to have a baby. In the Bible it says that. In a way it says that practically anything you do pleasurable is a sin. So if you are a Christian then you shouldn’t have sex unless you’re having a kid. It’s that simple.

    1. Your comment is ridiculous. Sex is a spiritually bonding act. For humankind it is much more than for pro-creation. That is A major seperation between us AND animals. The Bible praises marital sex as much more than what you claim. Read Song of Solomon for Pete’s sake. It’s a gift for marital couples to enjoy that deepens the love bond between the two when it is spiritually in the right place.

    2. I hope for your marriages sake that you have so much trouble conceiving that you end up having a whole lot of sex, and enjoying it. Then after finding you really love sexual intimacy, that you find yourselves pregnant. God gave your wife a clitoris for one purpose: pleasure. Now go pleasure her.

    3. I would mostly agree. Sex has never been a bonding thing for me, ever. I’m 50 now, been married for about 26 years. In the beginning it was driven by hormones and physical need of a younger body. Once I hit my 40’s both start going away. Right now, I don’t care if I ever have sex again. I don’t have the hormones or the need. I’m taking meds for it but they do not increase the desire. Sex is not something my body wants or frankly even enjoys anymore. Once the hormones are gone sex is a very disgusting thing really.

      I am one of those people that do not experience deep emotional bonds. Sex does not give the feeling of bonding or joining of souls or anything. It was a need of the body.

      As you get older, the body starts telling you when it’s done doing certain things…sports, long distance running, lifting heavy objects and yes even sex. It’s a fact of life.

      1. This is the most profane comment I have read here so far. I can’t even find the subject this comment fits, and can only imagine that there is a sick fantasy on the lose, which needs to be taken captive by God’s Word and the power of His Holy Spirit.

        Also where exactly does Solomon encourage the act of a man’s seed be destroyed by his wife’s stomach acids? I just can’t recall that, but what I do recall is a guy named Onan, whom God punished with death for waisting his seed on the ground. Hmm…may God have mercy on and bless you with wisdom and understanding through His Holy Spirit!

  4. Good morning, This is more of a request for advice. My wife is 51 and has a rule that sex must occur 9:30 pm or later at night. We’ve a good marriage otherwise, with communication, and we are Christians.

    We used to be more intimate at a full range of times. We’ve had discussions about being more flexible on timing, but it always comes down to her schedule and need.

    Any resources I should consider? I’ve thought about making an appointment with a Christian Counselor. Mark

  5. Hello I’m a 27 wife and my husband is 37. I really enjoy my marriage except for our sexual life. We care a lot for each other, we demostrate love in other ways and we almost never argue. We both are in good shape and we do not have money issues nor kids. The thing that’s killing me from the inside is that we almost never have sex and we’re only 2 years married. I’ve tried wearing sexy clothes, being spontaneous, telling him that I would love to be together and also taking the initiative. Nothing I do works. We’re lucky if we haxe sexual relations every two to three months. What should I do? Should I accept this way is going to be my marriage and just focus on the other great things in our lives? Should I tell him how I feel but I’m scared of making him feel bad or damaging my relationship.

    1. Wow! Perhaps he has erectile dysfunction and is ashamed? You picked an older guy whose testosterone levels are dropping rapidly at that age. You may need to force the issue to get acknowledgement. I am in an opposite situation; 31, with a bit older wife. She surprised me by wearing a sexy outfit 2 weeks ago, which I had bought for her a couple years back. It was amazing. Now yesterday, when she was showering/preparing herself to make love, I brought the outfit and heels into the bathroom. She was immediately offended and said I should accept her the way she is and that sexy outfits are her choice. It immediately turned into a near divorce argument, especially when I stated we hadn’t had sex in 2 weeks because she’s always exhausted and she scorned me for keeping track. I do all the work anyway, including making her orgasm everytime, so the exhausted excuse doesn’t really fly with me. Why can’t we all just have happy regular sex and get along?

    2. Wow. I feel for you. I am 10 years older than my wife. We went thru the same thing when I was in my late 40’s. She was horney all the time and I was just tired. Turned out my Testostrone was low. Now I am 62 and she has a low sex drive and I want it 3or 4 times a week. Good luck sweetie!

  6. We have had a 14 month miracle. My wife 5’2 weighed 210 pounds at this time last year. She did not care about sex unless she needed/wanted it. Just like the article suggests we had mismatched libidos.

    Then her friend had a marriage crisis. There was an affair, and she began counseling her friend. She spent many hours helping her friend cope with the loss of her marriage. As part of that my wife began to see how her selfishness could be ruining our marriage. She began to take care of herself. She dressed nicely, wore makeup, kissed me when I came home, and made several trips to Victoria’s Secret.

    Suffice it to say she began to initiate sex, and often. We now have been physically intimate everyday for the past year and 2 months. Yesterday we made love before church, and after. We have 3 children, and we still manage to make time for each other everyday. We overlook each other’s faults, we defend each other, we serve and love.

    My wife basically repented of her selfishness, she repented of being fat: In the last year she has gone from a size 16 to a size 4. She looks amazing, she actually weighs less than when I married her 19 years ago.

    I guess I only had hope and prayer left. My prayer had always been that I wanted her to see things my way too. That was selfish. My last prayers were that my wife would see her selfishness and allow herself to trust and love me. She has. God hears and answers prayers. We are such a better couple. We are so much more patient with each other and our kids.

    She also now uses a vibrator in our love making, and this has made a huge difference, as well. She knows she will climax, and does so a few times, sometimes 20 or more in a night.

    I know the Lord loves you and wants your marriage to be happy. Good Luck! God bless.

  7. I’m married and I haven’t had sex for 18 years, not by my choice. Is this normal? I think my husband is gay as he very rarely had sex face to face when we did. Any ideas?

    1. I am sorry to say that it sounds very odd at the least. I think your husband being gay is the least of it. To be married for 18 years and live thru a loveless marriage is a torture in itself. I assume you have asked for an explanation? What does he say?

  8. I’m really looking for some guidance specifically from a woman. I’m a mid 40’s guy married for 12 years or so. We have 4 kids, the youngest is 10 and for the most part they’re great but anyone with kids can tell you there are always worries. The kids stay out of trouble, get excellent grades and play sports a lot. I’m only telling you this because I’m trying to set a scenario. Both my wife and I work from home and are around each other constantly. We work out together in the morning 3 times a week and work hard. We each run our own business and it’s difficult because we’re launching these at the same time. Where we live is expensive and work and money is a major focus, not because we drive expensive cars and replace parenting with money as we do see. But money is a concern!

    Anyway about 7 years ago my wife came to me and said our sex live wasn’t making her happy. She said I wasn’t interested in it enough and she was worried it had changed so much from our early days. I had not really noticed it as we had let the parenting and kids rule over us. I went to talk with my doctor and he ran tests to show I had low testosterone levels and he corrected it. And from then on things were back to good.

    About 3 years ago I went to my wife and said I was concerned. We were not having much sex at all, sometimes nothing for a month or two. I would have been lucky if we did it 2 times a month. I didn’t understand. We worked out together and were happy, work was still stressful, but we were attracted to each other or so I thought. Well I asked her what was going on? She said she wanted to do more things outside the house. Take a night trip here or there and spend time as a family. I told her I wanted to have a more regular sex life. I didn’t expect it to be like the first few years but I missed the closeness and bond we shared. The happiness of our life and being best friends. I felt like I was doing everything she told me she wanted and she wasn’t doing more of what I wanted. Now I wasn’t just asking for sex. I said I missed the random kiss, holding my hand and the occasional “I Love You’.

    It has now been 3 years and nothing has gotten better. I love my wife and don’t even think of another woman. My wife is the most beautiful and sexy woman I know. And yes I do tell her this. She often wants to compare us to other couples we know. Compare the things we do or don’t do to the lives our friends live. As anyone knows when you start a business money is tight but things are really starting to go well. And to be fair we live in a very nice place, have lots of friends and don’t want for much. However things were really bad sexually; I was being turned down a lot and started to feel like a desperate teenager. It really hurt my ego and I told my wife everything I was thinking and feeling. I thought this would be good and always believe in being upfront.

    Now cheating on my wife is out of the question. I have lots of friends, both men and woman, that have affairs, and say its good for their marriage and monogamy is not natural. I don’t care. I believe in the vow I took. But what I started to do is watch some adult geared movies. Not often but occasionally I would record something from the movie channel and watch it. I didn’t hide it but she would get mad about it. I told her I didn’t see the problem considering why I was doing it. I would gladly give it up for time with her. I didn’t feel bad about doing it but maybe I should? Either way as the sex life has continued to darken I’m nearing my wits end. Now I just say nothing. I spend more time with my kids and try to throw myself into other things. I have been upfront with my wife about my feelings but it’s like a broken record. Each time I ask her what I can do? Lose weight? Cook dinner more? I cook 4 out of 7 nights. I do more than half of the stuff around the house, (again just painting a picture).

    Now I’m starting to feel worse and worse. I have no patience when my wife complains about not being able to do this or that. I just feel like a broken record. And now I’m at the point where despite loving her, I don’t feel it’s returned. She never tells me she loves me and the few times I’ve tried to get something romantic going, say after we work out or something, she shuts me down. I’m at the point that if I didn’t have kids I would leave. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I’ve done something wrong. She tells me that guys can take a little blue pill and are ready to go but not women. Mind you she was a very sexual person. So I understand things change but this is a huge change. I don’t know what to do but know that she could go months without sex and I don’t want to. Does anyone have any thoughts?

    1. Sorry for the late reply, here it is: you said: “Both my wife and I work from home and are around each other constantly.” That is the issue. You are around each other too much. You need a job outside of the home. Not sure if I would take a overnight job. You are focused on jobs, money, children, and not each other.

  9. It’s a little crazy to read all the comments about what is considered average sex. So, needless to say my husband and I are having sex about 4-5 times a week. Needless to say when we’re having problem, such as stress, financial issues, relationship problems we tend to cut down to our intimacy. I don’t have an issue doing it this often but my husband sometimes feels as if we aren’t doing it enough and it’s a little frustrating when I tell him no because he takes it to heart and takes it personal (lol) and then that becomes and issue. But overall I’m glad to say that we have a great sex life and hopefully it stays that way.

  10. Hi I’m Edward. It’s so sad to read these articles. I believe advice is the best to get out of a sexless marriage instead of sitting with the heart aches. I’ve got a similar situation and consider separation also.

  11. Looks like I am in the same boat as others. We have been married for 20 years and always had wonderful sex until about a year ago. Now I hear “you just had some last week” or “somthing is wrong with you I have been putting up with you for 20 years” or “what about the other things I do? They dont count? I feel my marrage is doomed.

  12. Last time I had sex was over 40 years ago. Married almost 50 years and I won’t talk, listen, or even be near her. I’ve lived my whole married life in our basement. She is so boring and lifeless when it came to intimacy and sex.

  13. I have been with my husband for ten years. Initially in my 20’s I didn’t enjoy or really want sex until I hit 30! I want more sex but he doesn’t want to as much as I do; instead he sees it as a chore. I hate having to initiate it. I wish it were as a priority as him going to the gym. We have no children so I don’t understand it. Not sure if I should just let it go. I don’t want to cheat, just to stay in marriage where I’m not sexually fulfilled. It’s getting old. He’s a sweet guy but the sex and affection feels forced. I go to the gym regularly as well so I see it as no excuse to be tired.

  14. Hi I think my 15 year old boyfriend has aids but I’m not sure if I have it what should I do?

    1. Jemma, Please find a doctor or a counselor who can help you get an HIV test. This is no “romantic” disease in any way. It’s serious, and getting help sooner than later can make a BIG difference on the quality of your life and the longevity, for sure. Also, quit having sex with your boyfriend. At least one of you needs to be sensible in this. If you don’t have AIDS, you could pick up other diseases. Please use the brain God gave you. I hope you will, and pray you will make better choices on what you do with your body in the future.

  15. My husband doesn’t like sex with me. He likes sex with other females. Why…..what can I do for my married life?